Chapter 17: Telling

Chapter 17: Telling

A week since the claim, and the memories had finally subsided - leveled, and lost their subtle but substantial grip. The first day or so it was all Xander could do to get up - walk around. Every thing, every touch, every sound, seem to trigger something, and he'd stand for long, long minutes just lost in memory.

"Let's rent a boat, William. A row across the lake would be lovely."

"Of course, Mother." People galloping past on horses, carriages with well-dressed women sitting inside, nod of head and bow, bow... Walking slow because Mother is ill and mustn't overdo. Two little boys in sailor suits tossing bread crumbs to the ducks and the boatman bobbing and touching his cap, undoing the painter and giving the little rowboat a shove. Mother smiling, so pale, her parasol casting a slant of shadow across her face and throat and the Row crowded with people and horses, the quiet ruffling of the lake-water a balm to frayed nerves... And now Xander knows that Spike - William - didn't like horses. Or, rather, loved them, for their beauty and romantic Arthurian allure but had never ridden all that well and had never been a part of the 'horsy' set. Had, in fact, had a faint contempt for something so...physical. And that horses had scared him, a little. Then Xander would blink - swallow - look up and see Oz watching him, or feel Spike's fingers in his hair and gone again, another memory rising up like bubbles in a pool.

"You've been a naughty, naughty boy, Spike - Miss Edith says you must be punished." Curve of red lips, tumble of black hair, sharp nails scoring his chest and the rope biting into his wrists. Rope he can snap in a moment but they both like this game so he doesn't, only arches up to her touch, her golden eyes flickering to brown and back again, long pale thighs clasping his, glitter of the knife as it twitches restlessly across his chest, belly... Xander gasps awake from that one, feeling the surge of arousal and he's on the floor by the kitchen door, Oz touching his shoulder, Spike leaning against the wall and just as lost as he is, reliving some part of Xander's life that makes him snarl when he comes back from it.

It's overwhelming, exhilarating - terrifying. Xander lets Oz pull him to his feet and he sways there a moment, not letting Oz's hand go, because another memory surfaces. This kitchen, this table, Oz saying it will be alright and Spike seeing hurt, seeing loss... Vowing to fix it and Xander looks at Oz and smiles. *Yeah, fix it. Just let me... just let me get my bearings, let me get all this...settled.* The hyena is bewildered by the rush of remembrance so foreign and so overwhelming and has retreated to a grumbling sulk somewhere down below conscious thought. The soldier is vacillating between horror at losing control so often and so completely and glee at a centuries' worth of mayhem he can plunder for skills and techniques.

Xander sits at the table, drinking a soda, and...

"Thee canna do this, boy, it's too much!" Angelus, furious. Fist twisted tight in Spike's shirt, the threads popping as he yanks and tries to jerk Spike down to his knees. Angry over careless mayhem, gleeful chaos. And of course Spike fights back - ALWAYS fights back, even when he knows he's going to lose - fist driving into that sneering mouth, knee coming up to sink into a vulnerable groin, the grin stretching his mouth as both hits connect and blood is trailing over Angelus' mouth, now. Angelus wheezes and doubles up and drives his head forward, and they are stumbling back, crashing into a spindly-legged table and Darla is looking on, a bored expression on her face, a glass of wine in her hand. Drusilla is on the bed, bouncing excitedly, her eyes gleaming and Spike winks at her and then yelps as Angelus crushes down on top of him, sharp elbow in the belly, fangs snapping at his throat, one hand twined in his hair and the other trying to break his ribs with hard, rabbity punches. Growl, heave, roll, and Spike is on top, rapping that damn great Irish head into the hearthstones with a satisfying crack and then Darla is there, wine-bottle swinging... Xander groans and puts his head on the table and Spike is laughing, mumbling something. Xander looks up and catches Oz's eye - the werewolf is looking a bit spooked.

"It's a madhouse, a madhouse!" Xander exclaims, his best Charlton Heston, and Oz grins at him, some of the tension flowing away.

"When do you think this'll... settle down?" Oz asks.

"I think..." And that memory comes to him - a slim, pale man *vampire* in a grey suit, ashy-brown hair blowing in the ever-present breeze from the sea, grey eyes full of laughter and life. A woman beside him; auburn hair, plump, pale blue eyes and the same laughing look to her. Talking about the claim, talking about...

"A couple days, maybe? Not too long. They'll fade." Spike leans on the chair behind Xander and combs his fingers through Xander's hair.

"Right, wolfling. Give it a few days and we'll be right as rain. Greyson said... he could remember if he wanted to. " Oz nods, then, and sighs as Xander and Spike both zone out again, and when Xander surfaces it's dark outside. Oz is watching something on TV about the birth of Blues music in the south and Spike is smoking and looking angry.

"What is it, love?"

"Can't believe they left you there - fuckin' bastards - you were six, you were so scared..." And Xander knows what Spike is remembering. Himself getting his tonsils out and his parents dumping him in the hospital and gone, stuff to do, and he had lay in the bed and shivered and cried. Not knowing why he was there, not knowing what would happen next, too scared to get out of the bed and not knowing how to call anyone and he'd finally wet the bed and then cried even harder, absolute horror because now, now... Xander shook that off, pushed his head back into Spike's caressing fingers. *love you* warm and sweet.

"I can tell the wind is risin', the leaves tremblin' on the tree...

Tremblin' on the tree...

I can tell the wind is risin', leaves tremblin' on the tree...

All I need is my little sweet woman..."

A man's reedy voice from the TV, the recording scratchy and a little distorted, the guitar stark and unaccompanied. Somehow, it makes Xander shiver.

"Yeah, well... I got ice cream and toys from all the nurses when they figured it out. And Wills brought me a coloring book the next day." Spike snorts, crushing out his cigarette, and Xander leans over and kisses him, soft and slow.

"Come make it all better, love..." he whispers, and somehow the memories are easier to take when they're lying in the bed together, close as they can possibly get; Spike beneath him and around him, murmur of his name, cool mouth against his and *want need* and Spike's blood like nectar, the claim mark a raised glyph under his tongue. Then the memories wash in and out without so much...baggage. Xander sighs in bliss and relief, cool skin against his and the link wide open and fire in the grate, Drusilla writing in her journal, letting her hair be brushed and brushed to a silken cowl, warm and safe and loved, loved...

Monday - ten days gone, and they'd managed to avoid Buffy, Giles - everyone, really. Even gotten in a couple of their own kind of patrols; the demon and the wolf and the hyena running through the night, being pack, being family, and it's all part of the fix that Spike and Xander know Oz needs. But not all of it. And Xander has tried out a few of those memories - tried a move, here and there, from Spike's street-brawling days and after the second or third try it had been like he'd known them all along. The soldier was ecstatic. And a new thing - images, through the link. Old ones - memories - but new ones, too - what Spike was seeing, or Xander. What either of them were thinking. Spike amused himself by sending little flashes of Xander and himself fucking - just glimpses of thigh and arched back, rib or curve of throat or sweep of buttock. Enough to make Xander hard for hours. He got his revenge by sending images of his co-workers, naked. Beer-bellies aplenty, and Spike just laughed at him when he came home - laughed and tackled him to the bed, as ready as Xander was.

The memories had finally sunk under, but Xander still woke shuddering from nightmares. Nightmares only to him - memories of hunts and fights and Spike learning what sort of damage a railroad spike could do to a human body. Drusilla having tea-parties with blood in the teapot and half-dead little girls listless at her party table. Angelus...showing Spike how much more powerful he is then a five-year fledge and Spike seething, in agony. Too beaten to even move, too lost in Drusilla to run away, too desperate to be part of to abandon his only family. And other things - the Initiative among them, and Xander really wants to hurt Riley now. Those memories were fading, as well - were already losing their hard-edged brilliance and becoming nothing more than vague scenes, scatter-shot across his night-time brain. For that, Xander was thankful. His own life had caused Spike more anger then anything, and Xander had wondered if he would get a call sometime. The police, telling him his dad was dead. But Spike overheard that thought one night, curled tight to him, and whispered in his ear - in his head. *Yours to do, or not, as you like. Your choice, your revenge, love...your family*

Tonight they were all three sprawled on the sofa-bed, watching the 'Alien' oeuvre and eating take-out from the Ethiopian place. Spike was on his back, propped up with a plate on his stomach. With one hand he deftly scooped up eggs and lamb and vegetables with a piece of injera bread, with the other he idly rubbed Oz's ankle-bone. Xander grinned at that, then groaned and heaved himself up from his prone position when the phone rang.


"Hello, Xander? It's - it's Giles. I need to speak to you - can you come over here tonight?" Xander felt an unexpected and unwelcome clutch of anxiety, and immediately Spike twisted around, looking at him.

"Something up, Giles? Something wrong?"

"No - no. Nothing is...wrong, precisely, but I've never gotten your side of the spell we did, the...ah...Super Slayer spell, and I really need your...experience to put into my journal." Giles's voice sounded odd, and Xander frowned at that. Oz was watching him now, too, and Xander wondered if he'd ever get used to them being able to hear everything that was said on the phone.

"We're in the middle of dinner here, Giles, when - "

"Oh, say in an hour? And Xander, please tell Spike that Buffy wants to meet him at the Bronze. She wants to talk to him about...about the Slayers he killed."

"What?" A silence, and a sigh from Giles, and Spike is on his feet now, plate set aside and eyes going gold for a moment.

"There was... there was an incident, last night. On patrol. hurt, and she wants to know - she wants to know how Spike killed the Slayers."

"Is she ok?"

"Oh yes, yes, she's fine, a minor wound, really, but in light of her new...dedication to training and...learning, Buffy feels that... She needs to know - how it happened." Xander frowned again, not happy at all. But he couldn't put Giles off anymore, even if he wanted to. And something was making him not want to. He wanted to tell them - the whole gang. He was tired of sneaking and lying. He just wasn't sure if he wanted to yet.

"Ok Giles, I'll tell him. See you in a while." Xander hung up and sighed, and looked up at Spike and Oz. Spike looked ready to do...something. Fight, or yell, or punch something. Oz looked worried. Xander went over to Spike, slipping an arm around his waist and *calm love you*

"Guess I'm seein' Giles tonight. And you're seein' Buffy. "

"Do you think - what do you think?" Oz asked, stabbing idly at some cooked egg, and Xander shrugged.

"I - don't really know. He says - well, you heard what he says, but I don't know if that's all he wants. He sounded...strange. Maybe 'cause of Buffy, maybe not." Spike ran his hand up and down Xander's side, giving a little squeeze, then sat back down on the bed, picking up his plate again.

"We'll know when we get there, love. Nothing to worry about." His even tone was belied by the tremor of anxiety that ran through the link, and Xander sent back *safe love you*

"Yeah." Xander sank down as well, and Oz slowly ate a forkful of egg.

"You know, I think I'll go to the Bronze tonight. See what's up with the band that's there - maybe play a little pool. Mind if I tag along, Spike?" Spike grinned over at Oz.

"What, are you sayin' you don't trust the Slayer, wolf? Think she'll need double-teaming?" Oz laughed, and bounced a little on the bed, wolf eyes and fangs and claws for a moment, then himself again.

"Nah. But you're supposed to be all unable to fight back, you know? I just don't want her getting...overzealous."

"Oooh." Xander raised his eyebrows in mock amazement. "Big two-dollar word from the wolf. I gotta get me some of those. But first, the rest of my dinner."

Xander dropped Spike and Oz off at the Bronze, and couldn't repress a shiver of unease as he watched them walk inside. *love you safe* came from Spike as the door closed, and Xander sent it back hard, then drove on to Giles's apartment. The complex was quiet, and he sat for a little bit in his truck, thinking. Feeling Spike faintly through the link; arrogance and amusement and something like nostalgia. Brief image of Buffy, looking angry, shoving a plate of chicken wings across the table. He wondered what they were saying. Sighing, he got out of the truck and walked down - knocked gently on the door. After a moment Giles opened it, and wordlessly ushered him inside. Papers were strewn over the table - books and several half-empty cups of tea precariously piled among them - and Xander eyed the mess with suspicion.

"Been doin' some heavy research?"

"Something like that. Please - sit down." Xander did, perching on a stool by the breakfast bar, and Giles leaned on the edge of the table, glasses off and thumb rubbing over his forehead as if he had a headache.

"Xander...when we did the spell... You could feel Willow and myself, could you not?"

"Yeah - I could. It was like - Willow was power, and you were..." Xander stopped and looked at Giles, and Giles looked slightly uneasy. "You were - demonkiller. And not - like Buffy is, you know? It was...darker."

"Ah. Yes, well, in my younger days I committed my share of rebellious acts, and I'm afraid some of those acts involved...darker magics then I currently...employ."

"You and Ethan Rayne?" Giles shot Xander a hard look and then sighed.

"Yes, Ethan and I. We were - friends once. A long time ago. Did you feel - anything else?"

"From you? I felt - teacher. And fighter, and...father." Xander fiddled with a loose button on his work-shirt - glanced up to see Giles looking at him with a rather startled expression, one that melted into a small, pleased smile.

"Well, I, uh, suppose that, in my time here, I've certainly assumed many of the...well, responsibilities one might associate with a father, especially towards Buffy..."

"Yeah. You kind of have. For all of us, really. I mean - Willow's parents are gone a lot, and mine... They're just gone, you know?" Xander couldn't help but smile back at Giles, and the tension in the air seemed to lessen a bit. He could sense amusement from Spike again, and the sort of jumpy energy that personified Spike in on mode. Flicker of something - pool cue and table and Buffy's startled face, brief glimpse of Oz, and he relaxed more, knowing the vampire was all right.

"Yes, well... Back to the...point of your visit. You could feel Buffy as well, I assume?"

"Oh, yeah." Xander shivered a little, remembering. "Buffy was....blood and bones. And eternal, and... lonely." Giles was staring at him now, and Xander started feeling uncomfortable again.

"Really, Xander, I'm quite amazed. You seem to be able express how it felt much better then any of the rest of us. I wonder, is that because of the soldier, or the hyena?" Giles voice was so soft - so even, that it took Xander a moment for him to really register what he'd said. And then he stared in amazement at the older man.

"Wh-what?" Giles was watching him closely, being The Watcher, his pose one of relaxed indifference. *Ready to pounce* Xander thought, and unconsciously straightened on the stool.

"I could feel - both of those things - those entities. The hyena seemed....eager? Excited? And the soldier was very... Well, Buffy said it made her feel brave."

"Yeah, he did. Giles - "

"Why didn't you tell me Xander? How long has this - possession - been going on?"

"I'm not possessed, Giles. They've...they've been there since they happened. The hyena never left, I just got more...control over it. And the soldier the same way - when the spell was broken and we all went back to normal, he just...stayed. It's not... They don't hurt me, or anything - I mean, the soldier helped with Angelus, remember? And the hyena helps, too - they both do. I can fight better because of them. They don't - control me, or anything. They're like...Jiminy Cricket, only - you know - with the schematics for a land-mine and a craving for a rare steak from time to time."

Giles looked at him, frowning, and then stood up and paced closer, his eyes dark and his arms at his sides, tense.

"And how does Spike fit into all this?" Xander felt a wave of icy dread pass over him, followed rather swiftly by sickly relief, and he swallowed, watching Giles.

"I felt him as well, Xander. Buffy and Willow both seemed to think it was - part of the other two. They seemed to have a much more...muddled recollection of what happened. But I remember distinctly that he was there, in you, with the rest. With us, for just a moment. I've had - suspicions - since he moved in with you, and Angel - "

"Angel? What's deadboy got to do with this?"

"When he was here last, he came by, on his way out of town. He said that I should keep an eye on Spike. And I have been, as best I could. It's been difficult, considering how little you two - three, including Oz - are around. And then we did that spell, Xander, and Spike is in your head. How is that possible?" Giles was very close, now, and his eyes had a hard gleam that Xander associated with the *darkman* Ripper part of the Watcher's past. The hyena growled a warning and the soldier dredged up memories - two, then three, a rapid stutter of images - Spike fighting, particular moves. Xander shook his head, dismissing them, telling the soldier in no uncertain terms to stand down.

"Giles... This is gonna take a while."

Xander finally stopped talking and Giles simply stared at him, utterly motionless. Xander looked at him for a moment then got up and went into the kitchen, getting a glass of water and gulping it down. His stomach was in knots, and he was thankful to be out from under the scrutiny of the older man, if only temporarily. After a moment Giles followed him into the kitchen and began making tea, moving in a jerky fashion that showed how far away his thoughts were. Xander leaned in the doorway, watching him.

"You say - you say you can see... Xander, demons don't have souls - you know they don't."

"But they do, Giles. You said so yourself. Remember the demon trapped in the book, the one Willow scanned? You said its soul was trapped for all eternity. I can see them, Giles. They really are there. My boss is a demon. Hell, half of Sunnydale employs demons! Some are just really good at hiding. But I can see them if I want to, Giles - I can see Willow's soul, and Buffy's... I can see yours. And I can see Spike's, Giles. Both of them. It''s the most amazing thing I've ever seen."

"Xander, I... This is all so..."

"I know it's hard to believe, Giles. But it's true. Don't you have - isn't there something you could do - some spell or...something so you could see them, too?" Giles was shaking his head and Xander started to get angry. "I'm going to accept that you aren't just going to believe me - I mean, I'm not Willow with the magic powers and the nerd powers and I'm not a thousand-year-old ex-demon, and I'm not Tara who can see auras, and I'm sure not Buffy, so yeah, I can see where you'd think I was...lying, or under some damn spell- " Xander realized he was shouting, way too close to Giles in the narrow kitchen and he choked it off, taking a deep breath and trying to calm down.

*Knew he'd be like this! Didn't we tell you? He doesn't trust us, Harris, he won't believe until he can cut Spike's soul out and examine it under a microscope*

*OURS. Keep it away!* The hyena was snarling, and Xander laughed shortly, rubbing his temples. Giles was standing in front of the stove, arms crossed, frowning, his stance defensive and maybe a little spooked. *Ok, god, got to calm down, Spike'll think...fuck, I don't KNOW what Spike'll think, but it won't be good* He reached for Spike through the link but got nothing - the vampire had shut it down. The knots in his belly tightened. *So not good - damnit*

"You know, this won't exactly help my case here, but the soldier thinks you don't trust me. And the hyena? It wants to hurt you." Giles stiffened at that, and shot him a wary look.

"Do you want to hurt me, Xander?"

"Oh for god's sake, Giles! Of course I don't! You know, Spike and Oz neither one had a problem with this - they believed me right off. Why don't you?"

"It's not a matter of belief, Xander, it's - " Giles was cut off by a sudden thump as his front door flew open and banged sharply into the wall behind it. And Spike was there, furious, blocking the link but half into game-face and growling deep in his chest. Behind him Oz staggered in, panting, looking as if he'd run a marathon.

"Spike! What in hell - " from Giles, full-on Ripper in an instant.

"Hey, you guys ok? What's -"

"Sorry, Xander, I - " Oz reeled a little, gasping, and Spike grabbed his arm and pushed him onto a stool, glaring at Giles. The link crashed open suddenly and Xander felt *rage fear MINE* and he moved hastily, catching at Spike as the vampire rounded the corner of the kitchen doorway, going straight for Giles who was trapped at the back of the minimal kitchen space. Spike snarled, full demon, and Xander yanked his arm hard, making him stop, sending *calm calm CALM*

"It's all right, Spike - I'm ok. I should have - I just got pissed off. It's ok. Giles didn't do anything." Spike stared at him, panting a little, then whipped his head around as Giles made some aborted movement. Giles froze. Xander did, and Oz was dark-eyed, tense, on the verge of wolfing out.

"Watcherrrr," Spike growled, and Xander shook Spike a little, making him look back, making Spike focus on *love love yours calm now yours calm*

"Spike, it's OK, you need to calm down. Spike?" The vampire stared at him another long moment. Then finally he blinked, taking a deep breath. The demon subsided and Spikes human face was there, scowling. He leaned forward and kissed Xander, hard and possessive, his hands coming up to cradle Xander's face, fingers in Xander's hair and *love you love you* Xander kissed back just as desperately, pulling the shivering body close to him, hands under the duster and digging into Spike's back. Slowly, they pulled away from each other, and Xander saw that Giles had buried his face in his hands, glasses dangling from his fingers.

"You felt - it just kept gettin' worse. And then, the last couple of blocks..." Spike made a vague gesture with his hand. "I got worried, is all. Oi, Watcher! Don't piss my boy off, right?"

"Don't, Spike." Xander pulled Spike a little further away from Giles, tightening his grip around Spike's waist. "I was just... I told Giles about Jack, and what he gave me and what I can see and...he doesn't believe me."

"He'll just have to get over it, love. What brought all this on, anyway?" Spike pushed a staying lock of hair of Xander's forehead - gently ran his fingers back through the dark strands.

"When we did that spell - Super Slayer. He could feel the hyena and the soldier. And you, too."

"Huh. So he's all in a panic, hey?" Spike broke away from Xander's embrace and walked around to the front door, shutting it with a brusque push. Then he came back to Oz and rubbed his hand gently over the werewolf's back and sweat-damp t-shirt.

"Sorry 'bout runnin' you into the ground, mate."

"S'okay, Spike. It's good for me." Oz grinned, still panting, and Spike grinned back. Giles slammed a can of soda down onto the breakfast bar next to Oz.

"I'm so glad you're all friends again, but Xander we are not finished here. And Spike - I don't know what you've done -"

"Nothing I wasn't asked to do, Watcher. Chip, remember? You've got a bloody nerve - "

"Stop - stop! Giles, we're together, you're just going to have with it. This last week we…we made it permanent. It's called a claim, and it's... It's done, Giles. "

"Claim. CLAIM? Really, Xander, have you - have you lost your mind?" Giles was shaking with the intensity of his emotions, his expression one of horror and sadness and fury. "Have you forgotten that Spike has, on numerous occasions, tried to kill all of us? Has nearly succeeded ? He is not - "

"Giles - you don't understand. This claim - I know what he's thinking, Giles. I can hear him, I can feel him." Xander advanced further into the kitchen, getting into Giles' face and making him flinch away. "And he can do the same with me. We know - more then anyone around us - exactly how the other feels. Exactly. I've never been this loved, Giles. Never. I've never been... accepted like this, wanted like this. He can't lie to me, Giles. And I can't lie to him. Do you get it?" Xander was shouting again, Giles was looking more Ripper by the moment, and Oz's eyes had gone black, his shoulders tense. Spike just stood there, watching, and what was coming from him was rage and hate, bitterness and...sorrow. Xander caught his breath - looked over at him.

"What is it, love?" he asked, softly, and Spike shook his head - patted at the duster and pulled out cigarettes and lighter.

"I'm just sorry, pet. Didn't want trouble for you. Didn't want you to be unhappy."

"Not your fault, Spike. Not at all." *love you mine always* Spike smiled at him, flicking open the Zippo and lighting up.

"Spike, damnit, how many times - "

"Piss off, Watcher." Spike sat heavily on the table's edge and smoked, staring at the floor. Giles pushed past Xander, out of the kitchen and straight for the vampire, to snatch away the cigarette or to grab Spike up from his perch - something. But before he got there Oz was between them, head lowered and his stance screaming 'back off'. Spike had reverted to the demon, and was growling very low and soft. Xander moved hastily to Spike's side and Giles froze again, staring at Oz - at Xander - and took a careful step back.

"Xander, I think that - what you've done is very dangerous, and very foolish."

"And I think you're wrong, Giles. What Jack did - what he gave me, means I can see what people really are. I can see you, Giles. I can see what you did as Ripper - I can feel it. The taint of the demons you summoned, the love you had for Ethan - the things the two of you did... It's all there, Giles." Giles stared at him, and his hands were shaking as they took off the glasses, methodically polished, replaced them. Giles sank slowly down onto a stool, and Xander leaned next to Spike, pressing into him, needing the contact. Spike slipped his arm around Xander's waist and leaned his head on the mortal's shoulder, and Xander sighed. Oz relaxed, slipping back, and Spike touched his hand in passing, shooting him a grateful look.

"I don't know what to tell you, Giles. I don't know how to convince you." Xander spoke softly, defeat in his voice.

"I do." Spike sat up again, finishing his cigarette. He stood up and flicked the butt into the kitchen, sending it neatly into the sink. *love you mine*

"You want to know about the Sidhe - about Jack? There are books to read - people to talk to. That's the easy part. You want to know about the bloody claim? Call Angel. Ask him. Bloody poufter knows all about them. And I'm sure you'll believe him, won't you, Watcher? Believe the broody bastard when he tells you that we're linked now - blood to blood." Spike took one step, then another, until he was crowding Giles back on the stool and Giles had gone still again, obviously forgetting Spike's supposed helpless state in the primal fear of being prey. Spike's voice was low and rough and soft, and it raised the hairs on Xander's neck. "Nothin' to separate us but death, Watcher - and even that for only a little while. A very nasty, miserable little while. Don't be gettin' any ideas. My pain is his pain, my pleasure is his pleasure, and my death is his death. And the same goes for me, Watcher. Linked. You call Angel, ask him all the questions you want. He'll tell you."


"Well, that didn't go very well," Xander sighed, wearily climbing the steps up out of Giles' courtyard. The three of them walked slowly across the parking lot to Xander's truck; Spike smoking, Oz fiddling with the soda he'd taken with him, Xander restlessly tossing and catching his keys. The hyena was so hyped that Xander felt like screaming, and Oz suddenly made a low, growly noise.

"I really wanna hunt something down and kick its head in," he muttered, and Spike grabbed him in a fierce, one-armed embrace.

"That's the ticket, wolfling! A spot a' the old ultra-violence and we'll all feel better." Oz nodded in agreement, and Xander slipped his arm under the duster, around Spike's waist.

"So what happened with Buffy?" Spike snorted, getting his other arm around Xander and steering them all to a stop against the hood of Xander's truck.

"She got herself staked by some fledge. Got her all in a tizzy, so she wanted some kind of blow-by-blow explanation of how I done for those two Slayers. Couldn't exactly do a reenactment for the silly bint, so we...talked about it. Got me some free beer and wings, at least. An' I told her what she didn't want to hear."

"What's that?" Xander asked. Spike turned to look at him, eyes blue and clear as a noon sky, utterly calm, utterly feral, and Xander shivered just a bit.

"Slayers spend all their time dealin' out death - rollin' in it, persuin' it, dodgin' it. Eventually - they all wanna know - what it's like. They all got a death-wish, and I got to be their soddin' fairy vampire. At least I did for those two." Spike tipped his head back, looking at the sky, and Xander and Oz shared a look across him.

"Let's go fuck something up, guys, " Xander said finally, pushing away from the truck and going to unlock the doors. As Oz slid in behind Spike, Xander looked over at him, smiling just a little.

"Hey, Oz - thanks for - for being on our side, back there. Thanks for standing up for us. I - we - really appreciate it."

"It's ok," Oz murmured, fiddling with the bracelets around his wrist. He glanced down - back up - and his eyes sparked green in the dimness. "We're pack. I couldn't not, you know?"

"Yeah. Pack." Xander grinned, and the hyena let loose a low, chuckling sound, hair-raising in the confined space of the cab. Spike laughed.

"You're gettin' as freaky as the two of us, love. Have you smokin' and swearin' and fornicatin', next." Xander laughed aloud, starting the truck, and the ride to the cemetery was full of sharp-edged mirth as their combined nerves and blood-lust wound higher and higher. They went to Spike's old cemetery and started hunting, Oz half wolf and Spike full demon, and Xander knew his eyes were the hyena's eyes, green-glowing and merciless. They loped in a loose formation, Spike to the fore, alert to every sound. Xander drew in deep breaths over his tongue, almost tasting the air. Spike's blood was telling, more and more.

The air was heavy and warm; summer air, full of the ripe, green smells of growing things. There was the faint tang of the sea, the stronger scent of the river; complex smells of mud and water, dead fish and rotten wood. Fresh-turned earth, damp stone, Spike's duster, Oz's rich wolfy smell. Night-insects made a background cacophony of drones and buzzes and whines, and an owl called and called again, disturbed in its own hunt. Suddenly Spike held up a hand, and they all slowed and stopped, listening. Voices - quarrelling and loud. The breeze veered a little and the scent came to them - of earth and magic and blood. Vampires. Spike grinned, and Oz yipped low in his throat. Xander was silent, but he could feel the building excitement coming from Spike and he fed it with his own - gleeful images of slaughter.

As one, they bolted, silent on the springy grass; Spike's duster snapping a bit, Oz keeping up a steady grumbling sing-song and Xander finally raising his chin and loosing a full-throated shriek as the nest came into view. Seven vampires - all roughly the same twenty-somethings - unremarkable clothes, various collegiate hairstyles. Three females, four males. They had a swath of junk spread out over a large tomb - clothes and wallets, cd's and a player, various other things. Squabbling over the loot. Xander took it all in in a sweeping glance as his call froze them for one crucial moment. Then they were on them, scattering the vampires like a flock of birds. Oz pounced on a female, all claws and fangs, jaws in her throat and ripping in one quick snap and shake, tearing half her neck away. A swipe of clawed hand at the rest and she was dust. Spike leaped for two males close together, a roar of pure unholy joy splitting the night. He was a flurry of leather and hard-angled limbs, bones snapping under his fists and feet, fangs and fingernails shredding flesh. In moments neither vamp could stand and he turned on the next closest, happy to draw out their deaths.

Xander went straight for a male who had managed to get several strides into the bushes. He leaped onto the vampire's back, bringing him down, and his hands went to jaw and temple. With a quick, hard twist he snapped the vamp's neck, rendering him immobile, then finished him with a stake. He couldn't actually bring himself to decapitate - without a weapon it was simply too bloody, and he didn't trust his new strength that much yet. He glanced up to see Oz circling with the last female, swiping and lunging, and the vampire limping on a broken leg, blood at her stomach and throat. Spike dusted the last of his - he always got the highest count - then he too watched Oz, who darted in, feinted, then finished the reeling demon off with a wrench of powerful arms, tearing head from body in one clean jerk. *want fuck mine* was coming in hard from Spike, and Xander gasped in a breath and laughed the hyena's ululating laugh, sending the thought right back, his cock rapidly hardening in his jeans.

"My god," someone said, and all three of them whirled around, snarling, tensed to attack. Buffy and Riley stood twenty feet away, staring.

"Oz? Xander? What - what are you doing?" Xander was the first to recover, straightening out of his crouch, running his hand back through his hair. He was panting, keyed up, and he knew, from the sudden flinch, that his eyes had caught the light and flashed the balefire green of the hyena.

"Buffy," Xander said, and then couldn't think of anything else. His heart was pounding, he was slick with sweat, and adrenaline and arousal were making him shiver uncontrollably. *pack pack pack* through the link and Buffy was *not pack* and Xander wasn't sure he could string together a coherent sentence. Spike stalked forward a step or two, head still lowered and predatory enough for Riley to take a step back and Buffy to raise the stake she carried.

"Sslayer. " Spike hissed, and stopped, head to one side, regarding her.

"What is going on? Xander, why are you acting so weird? Was that - what Giles said? The hyena? What are you doing out here with Spike? And Oz?"

"Pa'rol, Buffy," Oz said, and Buffy caught her breath as Oz stepped out of the shadows, blood streaked up his arms, across his mouth. He was still partially the wolf - fangs and claws and more hair then usual -and the tar-pit eyes that were like a shark's. His words came out faintly distorted - slurred through the fangs. "We pa'rol. You know?"

"You patrol? With Spike? Have the two of you gone crazy? You're going to get yourself killed, Xander!" A low hiss from Spike, and he'd moved closer to the two of them, still with the demon's face. Oz went a little more wolf, growling low in his throat, and Xander finally gathered his wits enough to take a step closer, try on a wide smile. It felt more like a snarl, and must have looked like one, too, because Riley's eyes got very wide and Buffy firmed her stance a little, as if she expected Xander to attack her.

*Spike! Back off!* Spike stopped his advance, swaying just a little. Oz prowled over to the vampire, leaning into him the merest fraction, and the sudden extra surge of lust from Spike almost made Xander forget what he was doing.

"Buffy - we patrol. Kill demons - kill vamps. Spike's being...Master of the Hellmouth, you know? We keep the dumb fledges out of the school and away from the stuff they shouldn't mess with. Keep the worst of the demons out. Hadn't you slow it's been?" Buffy was looking at Spike and Oz, but at that she tore her gaze away from them and looked hard at Xander.

"I had kinda wondered... How long have you been doing this, Xander?"

"Oh - a month or so, a little longer." Xander moved restlessly, noticing out of the corner of his eye that Spike had his hand on the back of Oz's neck - was rubbing his thumb slowly up and down the nape, in the short, newly indigo-blue hair. *want pack fix it* and the steady surge of *need* made Xander shudder, and he wanted to be home, right now. He took a step towards Spike and Oz, almost missing what Buffy was saying.

"Xander, I don't like you guys being out here, and I don't like Spike being out here. And as for him being the 'Master of Sunnydale', that's a laugh." Buffy seemed to settle herself a little, and took a step towards Spike. Oz and Xander both stiffened, and Oz growled, deep in his chest. Buffy stopped, and let Riley pull her back.

"I think - we need to talk about this when...when everybody's not so tense. I'm going to talk to Giles about this, Xander. Just - get home, ok? Leave the patrolling to me."

"Not what you've been saying for the last four years, Buffy. Don't worry about us - we're pack. We protect our own." Buffy's mouth opened silently, a hurt little gasp, and her expression softened for a moment.

"Xander - please, tell me what's going on! You've been - you just haven't been around lately, at all, and you and Willow seem to be - fighting all the time,'re just..." Xander felt a jolt of guilt - he hadn't meant to upset everyone - but it was drowned in what was coming off Spike - lost in the subtle arch of Oz's throat as he let Spike continue to pet him. Xander looked at Buffy, fighting for coherency.

"I know it's been weird, Buffy. But -it's going to get better soon. I'm still your friend. I've just had - so much happen to me lately... I'm still here, Buffy. I promise you." Buffy looked at him for a long moment, then nodded, finally relaxing out of her stance, letting her hand drop all the way to her side.

"Ok, Xander. I - I still want to talk to Giles. Just - go home and do something...not quite so freaky, ok? I - we need to get going. My mom..."

"What about your mom, Buffy?"

"She - she's been sick, is all. Dawn's home alone with her, I need to get going. We'll talk later Xander, ok?"

"Is she gonna be ok, Buffy?" Xander felt a little surge of fear *she'll be ok - has to be* and Buffy kind of nodded, kind of shrugged.

"We don't really know. I - gotta go."

"Yeah," Xander said softly, and she and Riley turned and walked slowly away. Spike sent a last snarl in their direction and then he turned to Xander, letting the demon's face go, head cocked to one side.

"She'll be alright, pet. Joyce is tough. Want to go home now?" The worry over Joyce was still there, but it faded as Xander stared at Spike and Oz - the vampire's pale fingers stroking through ink-dark hair, Oz's eyes still dark behind his lashes, half-closed. Xander shook his head fractionally, throwing off the intense desire to simply *want HAVE* pounce on the two of them.

"Yeah. Home. Let's go." By the time they'd gone a half-dozen strides they were running, and Xander sent a long and wavering cry chasing after Buffy and Riley, hoping they heard it. Hoping it scared them, just a little.


The drive home was silent, the tension in the truck palpable. Once there, Oz got first crack at the shower, being the goriest, and Xander and Spike stood in the kitchen, gulping down orange juice and a beer respectively, eyeing each other.

"Is what I think is going on...going on?" Xander finally asked, and Spike lit a cigarette, tossing his duster over a kitchen chair.

"You mean the wolfling? We have to - fix this, love. He thinks..."

"Yeah. He thinks he's...being pushed out?"

"Something like that." Spike took a long drag, watching Xander. "I want to do something. I know how to fix this - I think I know. But it has to be the three of us, and it has to have to be willing, love, and so does he." Xander finished his juice and put the glass in the sink.

"You're talking about more, right?" Spike grinned, every bit as wolfish as Oz for a moment.

"Yeah, I am. Although that's almost enough right there. We need - he needs - to really be a part of this. Of the pack. We need to share our blood with him, pet. Just a little." Xander leaned back against the sink, crossing his arms over his chest, frowning. Sheer nerves made him lean and turn on the radio, soft jazz spilling out into the quiet. *yours always only yours* from Spike, comforting - reaffirming.

"You think that'll work?"

"It'll fix a lot of it. And...I need this too, Xander. If he was - if this was a nest, vampires, we'd all have shared - we'd all be...linked. The demon wants to claim him, make him family, and that's - the only way it knows." Xander rubbed his hands back through his hair - watched Spike reach and stub out his cigarette.

"But he can't bite us, Spike. I mean - Oz is family, but I don't wanna be a wolfman."

"And I like you pelt-free myself, love. He doesn't have to bite - just get the blood in him. Just a little cut, from each of us, and let the blood flow a little... He keeps away from the cut, that won't hurt either of us, and he'll get what he needs. "

"Will it be - "

"Like us? No. That small of an amount, the one time - no. It'll be just enough, is all." Xander pushed away from the counter and went to lean into Spike, untucking Spike's t-shirt and worming his hands up underneath, caressing ribs and shoulder blades. He ghosted kisses over Spike's face, jaw and throat. Spike sighed and hugged him close, his own lips teasing the claim mark that shone palely at the juncture of Xander's neck and shoulder; a silvery hieroglyph against the work-tanned skin. The link thrummed with *want* but with acceptance, as well. Xander sighed and shifted, and they separated slowly when Oz came out. The werewolf was in sweats and a torn 'Dingoes' t-shirt, and he sank down onto a kitchen chair, looking worn and a little down. Spike tipped his head towards the back of the house and Xander nodded.

"Hey Oz, we're gonna clean up real quick and then - we need to talk about something. We'll be right back out, ok?" Oz looked up at them, his eyes dark and his face clean of all expression. He nodded once and went back to studying his hands, and Xander and Spike went into the bedroom and stripped, moving quickly to the bathroom and showering without the usual foreplay. They were both aroused - tense - and Xander felt a ripple of fear in his belly. Oz needed something from them - needed to belong, and Xander wanted to help him - let him know, however he could, that he was a part of them, a part of the pack. He hoped Spike was right - that this was the way to do it. The thought of driving Oz away, of somehow screwing this up, made him feel a little sick and a lot terrified. Spike was roughly towel-drying his hair and he stopped and came over to Xander - leaned into him for a long, hard kiss.

"It'll be alright, Xander. You'll see. We'll fix this, fix the wolf. Don't be scared, love." Xander smiled shakily at him.

"Yeah. I trust you, Spike. I guess...I just don't trust me, maybe. Don't let me screw this up, ok?"

"Not a chance, love," Spike whispered, and *love you beautiful mine* made Xander grin. He leaned in for another kiss and then slipped away to brush his teeth while Spike went into the bedroom. When Xander joined him, Spike had lit their bedside candle and spread the sheet and quilt smoothly over the mattress and up around the pillows. The lube was discreetly tucked half-way behind the candle and Spike was pulling on the gorgeous brocade robe he'd 'nicked' from somewhere a month ago. *Man's got to have a proper dressing gown* Xander got his own robe and together they went back out to the kitchen.

Oz was still huddled miserably on his chair, his knees drawn up and his forehead pressed against them. He seemed to be shaking, and when Xander walked up to him and put his hand on the thin shoulder, he raised a pale, tear-streaked face to them. Immediately, Xander pulled a chair up close and sat down, tugging Oz over into a gentle embrace.

"Oz - come on. What is it? What's - tell us what's the matter." Spike settled onto the table on the other side of Oz, leaning elbows on knees, feet dangling, his expression for once totally serious.

"Oh, I... I'm just... scared, I guess." Oz sat up and wiped impatiently at his face; pushed his fingers back through his hair, making the glossy dark-blue strands stand up wildly.

"Scared of what, pet?" Spike asked, and Oz glanced at him, letting out a short, harsh laugh.

", I guess. Ever since the Initiative...ever since they got me, I've felt like...what if I am a monster? I mean...I went in there with you that night and I...killed those people, and I didn't...even care, Spike! I didn't care. They were people, and I..." Oz stopped, putting his head back down on his knees, and Xander gently rubbed his back, looking over at Spike. The vampire looked back, frowning.

"I can't help you with that, pet. I did the same, and you know I don't give a fuck for who I killed in there, or how I did it. They all had it comin', and I'd do it again tomorrow if I could." A flash of gold, the demon flickering out and then away, and Xander looked at Oz, thinking.

"You said that - death by vampire - or by werewolf - was natural, Oz. That - dead was dead." Oz lifted his face, tear-streaked again, and gave another of those strangled laughs.

"What if I was wrong, Xander? What if I...said that just to make myself feel better? 'Cause if Spike - if William the Bloody is natural, if he can...still hunt and feed off people and you can love him, then that puts me just about up there with Jesus Christ, doesn't it? What if he really is a monster? If he is, then I am too. The Initiative wanted me, too, and...I did the same things he did, Xander, I killed them -"

"Enough now, pet." Spike's voice was stern but quiet, and Oz rubbed at his eyes with the hem of his t-shirt and looked up at the vampire. "You and me, we're worlds apart. You got bit - got this wolf thing - you never wanted it. You let them lock you up in a bloody cage every month so you wouldn't hurt anybody. Fuck, you went to the ends of the earth to find a - a cure, or whatever you want to call it." Spike reached out and cupped Oz's cheek in his hand, fingertips rubbing lightly through the soft hair over the werewolf's ear, his thumb resting gently just under Oz's lower lip.

"Me, I saw Dru, right before she bit me. I didn't know exactly what she was but I knew she wasn't human - knew she was offering me the Devil's road. And I took it, wolf, I took it gladly. I wanted what she was offering and the first time I tore the throat out of a human I only wanted more. Until Xander I never gave a moment's thought to the people I was killing, and I wouldn't now except it would hurt him." Spike glanced over at Xander and the *love you* from Xander was so fierce it made the vampire draw in a sharp breath. Spike looked back at Oz - let his hand drop to cover the werewolf's slender fingers, lacing them with his own.

"What you did - you'll never do it again. You never would have if they hadn't done it to you first. They tried to make you a monster, but they failed. You're no bloody monster, pet, never will be. You're family here - part of the pack. You told Xander: don't hate himself, for what I do. Don't you go hating yourself for what you were driven to, wolfling. You got your revenge. You took back what was yours. Now it's done, and it's just us, fightin' the good fight and pissin' off the Slayer whenever we can, eh?" Spike grinned at him, and after a moment Oz smiled wanly back, and Xander rubbed gently at the nape of Oz's neck, pushing his fingers through the soft, thick hair.

"You've been pack to me for a long time, Oz. Even before the werewolf thing. The hyena always wanted you. I was doin' the whole 'denial' thing, of course, or maybe we'd...maybe we'd have been better friends. But you always felt - right to me." Oz pushed back lightly into Xander's hand, looking calmer, and Xander kept up the gentle caress, ignoring the *want* from Spike that threatened to drown him.

"Spike's right. You're no monster. You belong here. You're doing what most people in Sunnydale would never even consider doing. You're fighting the monsters they won't even acknowledge exist. You're doing the right thing, Oz. Nothing can change that. " Xander glanced up at Spike - sent a question through the link, and Spike raised his eyebrow and nodded, silent.

"We love you, Oz. Family, like Spike said."

Oz looked at Xander, his jade-green eyes steady and calm, finally, and infinitely old. There was sorrow there, but it was giving way before something else, and Xander had to smile, and Oz did too. The werewolf reached out and took Xander's hand in his - clasped it fiercely, the same with Spike's in his other hand. He looked between the two of them, and he seemed to have resolved something in himself - seemed to be putting aside the fear that had weighed him down for so long.

"Family, then." Oz said softly, and ducked his head, then looked back up and his smile was wider, almost laughing. "Thank you." Spike leaned forward, slipping his hand free and curving it around Oz's neck, pulling him close. The kiss that followed was slow and soft and utterly sensual, and Xander felt the tension and the want that had hovered all evening suddenly slam through him like a tidal wave, and he knew he made a small, desperate sound in the back of his throat, watching them. Oz's hand in his clenched down tight. Spike finally drew back, and Oz just sat there for a moment, eyes closed. When he opened them they were black, and Xander felt a twist of desire and excitement in his belly - felt it from Spike through the link, *need pack need NOW* and Xander pushed himself to his feet. He tugged the werewolf up, the heady scents of both Oz and Spike making him reel for a moment.

"C'mon Oz. Somethin' we gotta do. Somethin' for all of us, ok?"

"Ok," Oz breathed, and Spike slid down from the table, pausing only to blow out the kitchen candle and slip something out of a pocket in his duster. The radio had switched to a song now, soft flute, guitar, rat-a-tat of a drum. The three of them turned and walked into the dimly golden cave of the bedroom, and Spike quietly shut the door.

"I believe in fires at midnight when the dogs have all been fed.

A golden toddy on the mantle a broken gun beneath the bed.

Silken mist outside the window. Frogs and newts slip in the dark

too much hurry ruins the body. I'll sit easy… fan the spark

kindled by the dying embers of another working day.

Go upstairs … take off your makeup fold your clothes neatly away.

Me, I'll sit and write this love song as I all too seldom do

build a little fire this midnight. It's good to be back home with you."



The bedroom seemed warm, with the candle burning - faintly perfumed with sweet-grass and the citrus shampoo from the bathroom. Xander led Oz to the side of the bed and then stopped there, his robe falling open and his eyes huge and dark. Spike could hear their combined hearts, pounding in double-time; could hear Xander's breath shortening to pants and Oz's catching on a thin thread of noise - a whine that seemed to come involuntarily from his throat. Spike shed his robe to the floor and moved up behind Oz. He lay his straight-razor, that he'd snatched out of his duster, at the foot of the bed, and put his hands lightly on Oz's hips. The wolf twitched, nerves and startlement, and Spike bent a little and nuzzled into his still-damp hair. The earthy scent of the wolf was strong, and Spike breathed it in - moved his face down to the frail skin at the nape of Oz's neck and just hovered there for a moment. Oz twitched again, and Spike felt Xander's hands skim his - slide up Oz's t-shirt and cradle the werewolf's jaw. Xander bent and kissed Oz, gentle and slow, a mirror of what Spike had done in the kitchen, and Oz made another thready sound, a whimpering noise that made Spike want to pounce on him and kiss him - fuck him - until that sound became a scream. *want want want* was the only coherent thing from the link, and Spike felt the first tremble of almost uncontrollable arousal - the need that was driving all three of them. The demon, wanting to take and have. It was like some hot and coiling snake, slithering out from his belly and lacing through his bones, and Spike groaned and pressed his mouth to Oz's neck - began to kiss; behind his ear, his jaw, along the edge of the t-shirt. He slid his fingers up under the hem of the shirt and pushed, lifting it, and Xander finally broke their kiss, gasping a little, letting Spike maneuver the shirt over Oz's head and toss it aside. Xander gave a little roll of his shoulders and his own robe slithered free of him, puddling around his feet. Spike stepped closer, pressing his chest to Oz's back and the werewolf gasped, shivering. Spike ran his hands down Oz's arms, tracing the curve and swell of bicep and triceps, the delicate bones of forearm and wrist and the long, agile fingers. He lifted Oz's hands up, bringing them around to rest on his own hips, and Oz clutched fiercely, grinding back. Xander had leaned in for more kisses - quick, nibbling ones all along the werewolf's jaw and throat and chest. He lingered over the pale circles of Oz's nipples, grazing with his tongue and then with his teeth, and Oz made that noise again, tipping his head back, his eyes closed and his mouth open. Spike couldn't tear his eyes from the pale, fragile sweep of Oz's throat, and he bent swiftly and grazed his teeth over the jugular. Whimper. Harder pressure of teeth and the whimper was louder - needier. Oz's pulse jumped and fluttered under Spike's mouth, and a soft moan escaped him.

Xander slipped to his knees, his eyes fixed on Spike's, and his hands rose and tugged, pulling Oz's sweats down and then off, carefully disentangling them from his feet. Spike tore his gaze away from Xander's and looked down, at a heaving belly, jutting curve of hipbone, dense triangle of dark, auburn hair. Oz's cock was straining upwards, darkly engorged and slick. Xander put his hands on Oz's hips, stroking the knob of bone under pale skin, pushing up to trail his fingernails over the edge of the ribcage that came and went with each panting breath the werewolf took. Xander dipped his head down, rubbing his cheek into the crease of flesh between Oz's hip and thigh, licking and sucking, and Oz moaned, bucking forward, his rich scent intensifying, the wetness at the tip of his cock pulsing out, shivering droplets. Oz's fingers dug into Spike's buttocks, almost painful, the pressure of his buttocks on Spike's cock delicious and teasing.

"What's he taste like, Xander - taste him - " Spike whispered, and Xander swayed upright and extended his tongue, lapping delicately. Oz strained against Spike's hold on his wrists - twisted his hips forward, but Xander pushed him back, and Spike felt his own erection slip along the channel between sweat-slicked buttocks, making him press harder. Oz was gasping helplessly now, his knees bending as Xander took the tip of his cock between his lips and sucked gently. Then suddenly Xander stood, whole-body slither, and he was pressing his mouth to Spike's, tongue slipping inside and the werewolf's taste exploded across Spike's tongue, mixed with Xander's own unique flavor. They both surged forward, pressing into Oz's trembling flesh, and Spike broke away from Xander's mouth to pant harshly in Oz's ear.

"You taste like almonds, wolfling - like earth and almonds and - " Spike let one of Oz's hands go and lifted his own hand to turn Oz's head, bending in for a kiss that was rough and demanding, deep as he could go. Oz tasted like almonds there, too, and Xander was suddenly stepping away, up against the bed.

"Oz - I want you. We do. Is that - " Xander stopped, his hand lifting and coming to rest on the pale shoulder, rubbing there. "Is this ok? Will this be ok?" *want scared* through the link, and Spike knew what Xander was saying - took a step back, letting go, not touching at all and the wolfling swayed a little, his breathing rough and rapid.

"You gotta - gotta say yes or no, Oz. I don't want - don't want this to be wrong." Oz put his hand over Xander's, holding it still, looking up at him and his eyes cleared, wholly human.

"I want it. I need it. The wolf does. It's like I'm lost out here, just...drifting. I - we need to be - part of something. Tied to something. It hurts - " Oz stopped, head bowed, and Spike moved forward, enfolding the smaller, leaner body - pulling Oz back until they were touching along their whole length, no gaps between. Xander stepped close again, doing the same, holding Oz *safe pack* tightly between them. Spike could feel the werewolf's heartbeat, strong and rapid and steady, and he inhaled the combined scents of the three of them. It was a warm, heady mix and Spike felt the purr start in his chest, almost more vibration then sound, and Oz laughed.

"God, that's... " he twisted around to flash a grin up at Spike, teeth and the wolf's eyes, and Xander stepped away again, backing up into the bed and collapsing back on it.

"Bring him here, Spike...wanna..." Xander wormed upwards, ending propped on his elbows, legs in a wanton sprawl. Spike grasped the slender hips in his hands and steered Oz forward, knee behind knee, nudging him up onto the bed. At the last moment Xander twisted aside and Oz was on his belly, head bowed between his shoulders, trembling.

Spike lay on the other side of the werewolf, the purr fading, and he and Xander began to work they way down the pale body, licking and kissing and biting, going from feather-light touches to bruisingly hard ones. Their hands stroked afterwards, their own erections digging into Oz's hips or thighs. Oz whimpered, gasped, moaned aloud. His hands clenched in the quilt and his hips writhed, digging into the mattress. Spike motioned to Xander, sending an image through the link and Xander immediately complied. He tugged at Oz until the werewolf lay over him, groin to belly. Xander bent his knees, getting them between Oz's thighs and pushing them apart, all the while holding his jaw and kissing him. Spike's mouth moved from Oz's nape down his spine, trailing wetness, leaving little bruise marks from teeth and suction. Spike lay flat on the bed, letting his tongue slip between the tautly muscled buttocks, gathering the dark, salty flavor of the werewolf into his mouth. His tongue glided over puckered flesh and the slick perineum, and he gently pulled Oz's scrotum into his mouth, rolling it with his tongue. Oz bucked, gasping, and Xander's hands slid down, combing briefly through Spike's hair before going back up to knead Oz's back and shoulders. Spike let his tongue slip back up, to probe gently and then to push in, and Oz cried out, shuddering. Spike continued to fuck the werewolf with his mouth, stabbing and licking and going as deep as he could until Oz was grinding into Xander, his head down on Xander's shoulder, fists clenched in the quilt, and his voice breaking, trembling:

"Please, please, Spike - please, need it, need you, please - " Xander stretched, reaching, and Spike felt the lube being pushed into his hand. He flipped it open and slicked himself, his own want a fierce ache in his belly, his face rippling between human and demon, barely in control. Xander let his legs fall - did a quick re-arrangement of limbs and Oz was on his knees, face to Xander's chest. Xander lifted his legs, opening himself, and Oz yipped in startlement when Spike's cool, slick hand reached around and coated him in lube. He pumped forward mindlessly into the loose grip and Spike withdrew. He sent a question to Xander *can you* and Xander responded by pulling Oz closer, legs around the werewolf's ribs.

"Oz, come on - want you in me, Oz - want you to fuck me..." Xander whispered, and Oz lifted his head and moved, a little clumsy, shaking hand guiding himself forward to rest against and then push into Xander. Xander arched his back and groaned, but it was *want yes NOW* through the link and Spike scrambled to his knees - put a hand on Oz's hip and rubbed the tip of his cock down, into the slick crease, and then he, too, was pushing, pushing in, and Oz threw his head back, his breathing rapid and hoarse, his mouth open. Then Spike was in, going deeper, and he pushed harder and Oz was going deeper and Xander was writhing, urging him forward, chanting breathlessly.

"Oz, fuck, so good, Spike...ooh... " his voice choked off as Spike surged forward again, deep as he could go and Oz howled, and then the three of them were moving, thrusting, finding the rhythm that worked, and Spike set his teeth on Oz's shoulder, holding and letting the prickle of fangs spur Oz on. They strove together, breathless, fingers leaving bruises, nails scratching. Spike pinched at Oz's nipples, reached and did the same to Xander, and Oz was trembling now, gasping, and Spike suddenly reached behind him, feeling over the quilt until his fingers found the chill, flat shape of the straight razor. He pushed forward hard, crushing Oz down onto Xander and the two of them cried out. Xander's eyes were wide and glinting green in the candle-glow, and Spike bared his fangs at him in a snarl.

"Hold still, hold still wolfling." They all three were frozen, trembling, Xander and Oz panting harshly, Spike feeling the demon fighting for control - desperate to claim the werewolf for its own - be the Master of the nest, the pack. But Spike didn't take without asking - not in this, not with Oz.

"We want you to taste our blood, wolf. Take us into you - take you into us. Be - linked. Be family from the inside out. It won't be like - not like me and Xan. But close. You'll be able to feel us - all the time. And we'll feel you." Xander was arching upward minutely, his hands clenching on Oz's hip and thigh, and Spike sent *wait wait*, barely able to control his own desire. Oz lifted his head, looking around at Spike - at the straight razor. He stared at it - up at Spike, for a long moment.

"You really - want that? With me?"

"Yes!" from Xander, emphatic, positive, and Spike nodded.

"Fuck yeah, wolf. Want it. Want you. Will you?" Oz moved, twisting his hips a little, and Spike and Xander both caught their breath, *oh want want* in the link and impossible to tell who was thinking it.

"God. Yeah. I want to do it. Please, I want to," Oz whispered, and the hyena and the demon both roared in triumph. Carefully, Spike drew the razor over his forearm, the skin slicing cleanly away from the blade. Blood began to flow, and he held the wound over Xander's chest, letting the blood spatter over sternum and pectoral. Xander held up his own arm and Spike cut him. Xander did the same as Spike, letting his own blood fall onto his chest, mingling with Spike's. The scent hit them all like a hammer-blow, and Oz lifted his head, wild-eyed.

"Taste it, wolfling. Taste us. Take us into you." Spike whispered and Oz turned black, fathomless eyes on him for a moment before lowering his head. He ran his tongue over Xander's chest, chasing the scarlet trails, pulling the flesh into his mouth and sucking, cleaning every drop away. Spike went back to a sinuous and steady rhythm with his hips, the heat of Oz's body like fire around him, the heady scents of blood and sweat and musky sex making him giddy. Xander was moaning softly and he reached for Spike's arm and pulled it to his mouth, sealing his lips over the cut and sucking, his tongue fluttering over the skin. Spike did the same, tasting want and love and mine in Xander's blood. The flow stopped after another moment, the cuts sealing themselves off. The razor clattered to the floor and Spike pushed forward, crushing Oz down, feeling the tip of his cock find that place inside and Oz yelled, hips pistoning. Xander did his best to move beneath their combined weights but could do little, only lock his hands behind his knees and hold himself open, accepting them both onto him with low, urgent moans. The image came to them both simultaneously and Xander stretched up as Spike leaned down, and they both drove teeth into opposite sides of Oz's neck, biting the muscle there, breaking the skin and pulling the hot, rich blood into their mouths. Oz tasted like dark earth, rain, green - tasted feral and salt and other; the lunar magic of the wolf like a vein of pure sugar in bitter chocolate. Oz threw his head back and howled - full-throated, wavering - the wolf calling his pack-mates to him. Spike felt the familiar fire and ice of orgasm sweeping through him, urging his body to frantic movement. He felt Xander's own orgasm through the link - felt Oz through Xander, overlapping sense of bodies, and he wrenched his fangs away and roared into the night, Xander's own cry echoing beneath him, the heat and sweat of Oz soaking through him, burning him. Long, long moments passed in a daze, as their bodies gradually slowed and then stuttered to a halt, exhaustion weighing them down as they slipped sideways, crumpling in a heap. Oz was trembling between them, panting, and Spike nestled close, letting his thigh slip over a sweat-slick hip, letting his fingers trail randomly over ribs and chest, shoulder and arm. Xander did the same, pressing close and touching, letting his hand brush Spikes' again and again as they both petted and soothed the werewolf. Oz was finally limp, his breathing near-normal, and Xander squirmed free and made a staggering trip into the bathroom - came out with a towel, one corner warm and wet, and did a quick, gentle clean-up. Then he lay back down, once again enveloping Oz, and Spike put his arm over Oz's ribs and pulled Xander close, leaning up for a kiss and then settling back down, nuzzling into Oz's damp hair. Xander kissed Oz lightly, again and again, and finally Oz stirred, a tiny smile on his lips and *love pack* faint and thready.

"Oz - was that you? I felt that - I felt you, Oz..." Xander whispered, wide-eyed, and Spike felt Xander open up to Oz - open to him - sending *pack love you ours* Oz jerked, startled, and then looked at Xander - looked around at Spike in wonder.

"Is that how you feel? Is that what it is? Like...someone inside, holding me..."

"That's it, love. That's the link. That's us."

"Already?" Oz asked faintly, and Spike kissed the back of his neck, settling closer. *us ours pack*

"Yeah - you've magic in you, same as me and same as Xander does, since the claim. Powerful blood. It'll...fade a bit. Won't be this strong again. But it won't ever go away, no matter how faint it gets. We'll always be there in you, wolfling. Always."










The Charlton Heston imitation is from Planet of the Apes.

Robert Johnson - Hellhounds on my Trail

Jethro Tull - Fires at Midnight